While much of the NBA world is focused on the future of LeBron James, one of the league's top franchises hangs in limbo. The San Antonio Spurs are dealing with the Kawhi Leonard situation, while Gregg Popovich's future lingers in the background.
Popovich, one of the great coaches in league history, is 69 years old. Naturally, the team wants to do what it can to get him another title run before he retires. Signing Leonard to a long-term deal would be a huge start, as he's one of the top players in the sport when healthy.
The Spurs have also been floated as a player in the LeBron sweepstakes. He and Popovich share a very public mutual admiration.
No matter what the Spurs are able to do this off-season, the window for Popovich may be closing.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a column about the Kawhi situation today, and mentioned a potential timetable for Gregg Popovich's retirement.
He says that people in the legendary coach's "orbit" think he could be done after he coaches Team USA in the 2020 Summer Olympics, if not sooner. From ESPN:
Since the Spurs won their fifth NBA championship in 2014, Buford has had to be prepared for the possibility of Popovich, 69, coaching a final season and moving on to retirement. Every year, they need to make sure there will be one more season for Popovich. It's only natural, this deep into his career.
Few in his orbit expect Popovich to coach the Spurs beyond the 2020 Summer Olympics, and there always has been the possibility that he could spend the 2019-20 season traveling around the NBA and across the globe, preparing for his national team duties. Perhaps Popovich can have Leonard on Team USA in 2020, too, but that's a conversation for a different day.
Popovich has been head coach of the Spurs since 1996. In that time, he has captured five NBA Championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), and is a three-time Coach of the Year.
No matter how the regular season goes, or what injuries occur, as long as Popovich is on the sideline, the Spurs are seen as a threat in the playoffs. Whenever he does retire, it will truly be the end of an era.